Here’s a light weekend reading that serves as a break from heavy theological reading.
Garth Ennis. The Shadow, Volume 1: The Fire of Creation. Runnemede, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment, November 20th, 2012. 176 pp.
4 out of 5
Last week I read and reviewed The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Nights and I found the character “The Shadow” facinating. Apparently in the 1930s the Shadow and Green Hornet were popular pulp heroes and have their own radio shows which I have only learned about recently. The publisher has brought back these pulp heroes and have done a good job getting writers and illustrators to deliver to readers these wonderful graphic novels about them. This work which is volume one on “The Shadow” was a fun and delightful read.
This particular story takes place in 1938 during a tense time in which America was experiencing an uneasy peace as the Nazis in Europe and the Japanese in Asia were committing unbelievable evil. The story begins with historically accurate details about the Japanese atrocities in China both during and before World War Two. As someone who loves history I was moved to see a graphic novel willing to take up the subject of the atrocities committed by the Japanese which no doubt some have felt is less well known or understood compared to the atrocities by the Nazis. The plot of the story is about how the Shadow is involved in a secret plot alongside American Military Intelligence to oppose the Japanese military’s covert attempt to acquire special rocks in China that would help them produce a powerful new weapon.
I am intrigued by this character “The Shadow” who is able to combat evil quickly with his speedy use of two pistols that would make any Western Cowboy gunslinger jealous. There’s a sense of mystery about him that’s not fully explained in the book and his power to see the future and with the use of his ring to make people talk when he interrogates them makes him different than the traditional powers we often see our traditional superheroes have. One get the sense that the Shadow is deep, complex and multifaceted but somehow manages to have his moral compass being set for good which is never questioned in the story. I like that as I am not fond of stories of heroes with moral ambiguity or suggests some kind of moral relativism. Yet with that said the Shadow is a character that has an ugly past which the both the Shadow and his enemies mentioned. It’s also something that makes one of the characters who is an American agent for the military intelligence suspicious about him.
I love the details in the drawing that shows us the era of the late 1930s from the clothing, the plane and even the buildings. This attention to historical details is even more amazing when readers realize that the story takes place in scenes such as New York, Shanghai and deep in China’s Yangtze River. With that many locations the illustrator did a good job portraying characters, materials and locations of both East and West. The illustrations certainly made reading this work fun.
Christian worldview Reflection:
Reading this as a Christian I was struck by the topic of “atoning” for wrongdoing in the case of the Shadow who was out to fight evil as a way of righting his past wrongs. Obviously we are not saved by works righteousness but this was an example of how even with entertainment the idea is clear that conscience and guilt is very powerful and can be haunting even though at the moment of the sin of younger days it doesn’t seem to phase us.
This graphic novel also made me think about how evil human are; truly Total Depravity is true.